Percussionist Dennis “Shake” Shaikewitz, of Folsom, led 12 youths and three adults in a drum circle at the Jackson branch of the Audubon Regional Library on Friday.
He also took his talents to drum circles at the Audubon branches in Clinton and Greensburg.
At the Jackson program, children from Jackson, Slaughter, Baker and Zachary learned to play various types of hand drums, including an ashiko and djembe, as well as percussion instruments such as claves, tambourine sticks and the maracas.
During the program, Shaikewitz shared information about Afro-Cuban drums, which are more commonly known as conga drums, and taught the younger participants how to perform open tones and base tones while they learned about rhythms, which he said are taught phonetically.
He also encouraged the youths to volunteer in leading parts of rhythms in the circle after learning about the different instruments.
Having studied at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, Shaikewitz, a former pest-control worker, travels with his wife, Becky, leading drum circles at health and wellness facilities, assisted living homes, schools and libraries, churches and worship centers, and at the Children’s Hospital in New Orleans.
“There are therapeutic benefits of hand drumming in drum circles,” Shaikewitz said.
Shaikewitz says drumming reduces stress, tension and anxiety.
“Nearly all cultures have used or played drums in one form or another,” said Shaikewitz. “Music is a universal language, and participating in drum circles can break down barriers, as well as break the ice among different groups of people.”
The percussionist eventually turned his passion into a business, called Shake’s Rhythm Parties, and besides hosting drum circles at different venues around the state, he also facilitates hand-drumming programs for companies or groups that wish to engage in team-building exercises.
All of the instruments are provided by Shaikewitz.
The program on Friday was supported by a grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural Development, Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism in cooperation with the Louisiana State Arts Council as administered by the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge.